Which industry has the untapped potential

Current study: Companies are failing to exploit potential in industrial service

Industrial service for German machine and system manufacturers is still largely dominated by classic services such as repair, maintenance, spare and wear parts. Increasing digitization has long made it possible to provide more extensive services such as data-based remote diagnosis or visual online support. But the opportunities for these so-called “smart” or “lean” services are still rarely used. This is the conclusion of a study published by Staufen AG in November 2017.

Are German mechanical engineers missing out on some of the opportunities offered by digitization? Does potential remain untapped to increase customer satisfaction and customer loyalty? One could get this impression if one deals with a current study that one of the leading lean management consulting companies in Germany presented a few days ago. More than 150 mechanical and plant engineering companies were surveyed on behalf of Staufen AG. The focus was on the range of services offered.

Chances of "predictive maintenance" hardly used

The following graphic shows the main findings of the investigation. It was to be expected that traditional service activities would dominate (blue bars). But how far away companies are from proactive strategies for customer loyalty is a little surprising. Because it has long been technically possible for machines and systems to be serviced and monitored remotely. Why should a manufacturer not keep an eye on the technical processes of its customers and intervene in machine processes if necessary? In the best case scenario, a machine is serviced in good time or a malfunction is detected early, before a major machine failure with expensive downtimes threatens.

Great potential for lean service in mechanical and plant engineering

Image source: STAUFEN

According to the authors of the study, the possibilities of this so-called “predictive maintenance” are still being used far too little. To do this, innovations would also have to find their way into business models. Then a reactive service could be turned into a proactive one.

The change from a product to a solution provider

The service area - although often highly profitable - has long led a shadowy existence, from which it now has to get out". Professor Hansjörg Fromm from the Karlsruhe Service Research Institute (KSRI) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is quoted on the study results. And according to the assessment of Jan Sibold, branch manager mechanical and plant engineering at the management consultancy Staufen, the study shows that overall in the service business "still huge, untapped potential" lie.

Against the background of global market shifts, including in mechanical engineering, the study authors see opportunities as untapped. If machine builders from Asia buy into Western competitors and take on more and more market shares, an offer of technically and professionally high-quality additional services could become a decisive market advantage. The tenor is: In the future, you will be successful if you don't offer the customer a product once, but if you have the prospect of a permanent solution and position yourself as a service provider.

In part, this discussion about untapped opportunities is perhaps also a question of generations. Currently, a generation of trained engineers is leaving colleges that grew up with Facebook and Wikipedia, World of Warcraft and Napster, Twitter and Instagram, etc. For this next generation of machine builders, online tools, Skype, file sharing, data clouds and virtual “cyber” environments are completely normal. This awareness of the many new possibilities will undoubtedly also have an impact on products and services. Digitization, automation, IoT (Internet of Things) and all the developments that are currently subsumed under Industry 4.0 have long since reached mechanical engineering on the technical level. It will be interesting to see how they will increasingly include industrial service in the future.

Reference: You will not find the current study "Lean Service in Mechanical and Plant Engineering" for download on the Internet. If you are interested, please contact Ms. Kathrin Kurz, [email protected]

You can find all relevant information on the subject of “product safety” here.